FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Francis Marion University in Florence County is highlighting its growth with more than $20 million in renovations and construction.
Over the next few years the university is adding new facilities for additional programs and renovating areas on and off campus.
FMU President Dr. Fred Carter said the renovations and new buildings will help accommodate the campus’ continuous growth and better serve students for decades to come.
“It’s the growth of the university in unique ways that has brought about the funding for each of these,” Carter said.
Carter said a lot of the plan has to do with the expansion and development of graduate and specialized programs.
He also said $8 million dollars of the funding will go toward transforming the old post office in downtown Florence to host classroom, lab and office space for the university’s growing health science programs. Construction is expected to begin next year.
"The space downtown is needed to accommodate the growth of that been brought about by the nurses practitioners, physician assistants, speech therapy specialists and clinical science,” Carter said.
A few miles down the road from the campus near the intersection of I-95 and SC 327 will be a freshwater ecology lab and a small conference center.
“What a wonderful way for us to enhance the expertise on our biology programs to move them more and more into water quality research and freshwater fish research,” Carter said.
Later this year, the University will start construction on a $3.4 million Honors Center.
Athletic support facilities at the Smith University Center and Griffin Athletic Park will also receive upgrades with treatment rooms, locker rooms and office space.
It’s something FMU freshman and volleyball player, Alexis Watts, said she’s most excited about.
“It’s really awesome to know we have the support and that they’re helping us get better by giving us things that will improve our everyday lives,” Watts said.
Carter said the $20 million plan will be at no cost to students. All of the funding comes from state money or private donations so tuition will not be impacted and remain one of the lowest in the state.
Fifty percent of FMU’s student body is from the Pee Dee and 30 to 40 percent are first generation students, which Carter credits for majority of the community’s support.
“We have some many people who give us money, private contributions and those donors have been very very charitable in helping the university. They understand the first generational thing, they want to be apart of helping kids get an education,” Carter said.